Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pondering about sunam snails.....

Recently, I had a student send me a questionnaire for a research paper concerning Manusians and the perception of 'Brain Drain'. The following are my response to the question.

1.      When was the last time you went home to Manus? December 2011

2.      Do you think Brain Drain is a serious issue for Manus? Yes/No (Explain)
It would have been really good if you could have given a definition of the term Brain Drain here in this questionnaire. But it is okay, i will try to answer it as best as i can. To me, the definition of brain drain is to loose qualified, competent, skillful and knowledgeable people to another place, setting or environment. From this definition here, I would say that yes it is a problem and a serious issue. Firstly, competent and qualified manusians can make a serious endeaviour to build Manus in terms of infrastructure, community leadership, environment and conservation, education and health. When we loose people like this to other provinces, they gain and our provinces misses out.So yes it is a serious problem in for our province.

3.      What is your perception about Brain Gain, Brain Exchange, Brain Drain and Brain Circulation, do you think they contribute to development in Manus? Yes/No (Explain)
Yes of course. People who are qualified and competent are required in Manus to help Manus improve and move forward. We all know that many Manusians hold high profile jobs all over the country and even overseas. To have them back in Manus would be ideal but I believe that this cannot take place.

4.      What do you think the causes of Brain Drain are?
I would say lack of opportunity is the key cause. There are almost very little avenue for highly qualified Manusians in whatever field they are in to come back to manus and do things as they would like. For Manusians coming back to Manus to help Manus grow while they are still in their best years will not happen. For example, a highly qualified mechanical engineer cannot come and work in Manus as the working environment is insufficient to compensate his skills, ability and leadership. He cannot come and work at, for example, a company in Loregnau where the job is concerned with rebuilding, maintenance and engineering of light and heavy vehicles, outboard motor engines maintenance and general multiskilled engineering even if he wants to. Working in a place like Western Australia where the mine is world class and opportunities to learn cutting edge technology is ever present is a place where a young man in his best years will want to work. Besides, his qualification, leadership and skills are compensated richly compared to if he was working in Manus.The opportunity to do something unique is much more appealing unlike the situation in Manus.
The second cause is the desire to have a better living standard especially for families. Manusians who become qualified and then have jobs, want a better life for their families. When i mean better living standard, I mean better primary education, better health care, efficient law and courts, wider access to good and services – all things that are lacking in quality in Manus right now. Many manusians want better living standards for their families and when they can afford to have these standards, they will continue to have them in other provinces especially in the urban settings of Port Moresby. Manus doest have the economy to support these so called ‘better living standards’ so people who want to have them, move over to where it is thus leaving Manus. For example, a Manusian who becomes a aircraft engineer will move to Australia and become a permanent resident as he believes that his family will benefit directly from services in that country- a visit to Manus is solely for family events   

5.      Do you in one way or the other support family members back at home?

6.      Manus Province alone receives more remittance compared to any other province in PNG. If there is so much money circulated in the provincial economy, how can you describe the basic infrastructure and other development in the province?
I dont think that we should just assume that because there is money sent through remittances, that there will be improved infrastructure. I think there is a difference between personal remittance and basic infrastructure. I think we cannot say that because we have sent more money home, it means there is more money and this equates to improved infrastructure. I think the money that is sent home is spent on personal/ basic goods and services like food, fuel and clothing but more importantly, Manusians themselves are great savers of money. A villager will act as if they have no money but in reality, that person will save a large amount of money in keep it safe in box, in a tin or under the mattress. Only when there is a ‘custom wok’ then the money will come out. Again this money is spent on goods and services and nothing from personal remittances gets spent on infrastructure like roads and bridges. Unless the provincial government sets a specific policy or law that deducts percentages from remittances to specifically build infrastructure in the provinces then surely high remittances will equate to the type of high value infrastructure we could have in the province.

7.      Do you think we can solve the issue of Brain Drain? Yes/No? (Explain)

At the moment, i dont think we can. Maybe in the future when the economy grows because of a mine, fisheries or tourism and the local economy grew, then Iam very sure that many Manusians would want to go back home. I also think that to solve brain drain is a myth. I mean brain drain is phenomenon that will always happen to other provinces in this country other regions of the world too. Africa has doctors who leave their country to go and practice in Europe and nurses is Australia now want to work in Europe – all because of the strength of the euro currency – again a desire for a better living standard and opportunity to practice.

8.      Ho would you best categorise yourself, a product of Brain Drain, Brain Gain, Brain Exchange or Brain Circulation?
I do not know what these terms means but i will say that Iam living in Madang and working here whereas I could be useful working and living in Manus. My province and family looses out because Iam giving my services, time and effort towards my employer's dreams and vision.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Social media - my opinion

Earlier this month, I made a contribution to an article by Rachel Shisei, a journalist in PNG, when she posted about the impact of social media in the country on Thadreina Abady's blog.

Firstly, I’d like to thank Rachel for writing her views about social media and its use in PNG. Thankyou Rachel! We need more journalists to write and bring this issue into the mainstream media and encourage more young people to digest and construct ideas from this.
I would like to add on to Rachel’s article here that one of the positive things to come out from the use of social media in this country is that it allows mainstream media organizations to get stories, data, tips and views off other people and organizations online on social networks – something that was almost impossible just a decade ago. Lately on the local television station, EMTV and in the local newspaper, Post Courier, I have seen Facebook posts used as news items. This sort of interaction is what the news media in PNG needs – people using a social website to post items that are news worthy. You never know, sooner or later, we may even have a Papua New Guinea version of Julian Assange doing a PNG version of Wiki Leaks! Another positive outcome for the use of the social media for many organisations is that it is a cost effective way to bring your message to the mass media and also the general population. Its way cheaper and can be visibly informative.
Other the other hand, social media use has some issues that need careful thought. I will not highlight all these issues but point out a few that I believe, are important. Firstly, there is currently, in my opinion, a lack of legislation and regulation to guide its use and protect people. For instance, if online bullying occurs, defamation, use of profane language, trolling, inciting hatred, etc happens online in social media, who regulates this bad behaviour? Do we just let it by? Can people be held accountable for their actions? Is there even a need to regulate use of social media? Others will say that any kind of regulation reduces the right to free speech as guaranteed in the PNG constitution! Sure, social media is a positive outlet for free speech but on the other hand, when it is used for actions that are irresponsible, who accounts for their actions? For example, if a group is formed on Facebook and users, using false names, write untrue and baseless information about somebody or an organisation, and this information is read widely, people form opinions and construct ideas based on that information. Who comes in and says “okay what you are saying here is not correct and illegal. You need to be responsible for your actions here”?
My second observation, and again this is my own opinion, that even though the older methods of news collection (fronting up at a office and doing face to face interviews or doing telephone interviews) are still prominent, I feel that there is a shift towards this new method of collecting news as I highlighted earlier (using Facebook posts as news items). Sometimes i worry about the ethical issues behind this method and get uncomfortable when i read news collection methods today that have gone overboard – if you can remember the News of the World phone hacking scandal in Britain last year. When news collection methods shift, does this mean that news values change?
For me, the most interesting thing about the use of social media in PNG is that its’ cost effectiveness, simplicity of use, connectivity combined with our personal yearning for social interaction online will drive its use further more into the future. A decade ago, we knew very little about social media. Today, a friend, wanting to communicate with you will ask: “Yu stap lo facebook tu?” ( Are you on Facebook?)!

Monday, September 3, 2012

If I can do it, you can do it too: Mr Lala

The Acting Assistant Secretary –European Union (EU) / United Nation (UN) Branch in the Department of National Planning and Monitoring Papua New Guinea, Mr. Floyd Lala,  encouraged Health Management students to fully take part in their learning and make the best use of their time in Divine Word University.
Mr. Lala, a former Health Management student, who now works in Port Moresby, has encouraged the current crop of Health Management students for 2012 to not only make good use of their time here but to excel in community activities as well.
He said: “Apart from you academic activities, there are community events and processes such as the DWU cultural show, provincial nights, Students Representative Council, ecumenical church activities and many others are places where you can develop yourself better in leadership, communication, ethics,  spiritual growth and the ‘Diwai Spirit’.
“Many of the things you learn here in your classes are relevant and worthwhile in the workplace and are often seen by your future employers as valuable skills’.
He further said: “Nearly six years on and I’m glad to say I’m a graduate of Health Management at DWU. The subjects I learnt, the facilities I used and the culture that I was groomed at DWU, enabled me to find my place in the PNG workforce. 
"Health Management is a unique course in PNG and DWU is the only tertiary institution that is providing a tailored course to those who want professional training in management of public and private health organizations in this country. It provides a mix of business management, accounting, healthy policy, project planning and design and administration of health facilities and projects - these are right ingredients that have helped me to be a better manager of health services, policy and even organizational behavior.
“Of course, I did what many of you are doing now, that is enjoying the freedom, being away from the parents and guardians. But at the back of my mind, I always knew what my PRIORITY was and that was to get the best education that DWU has to offer. I made it my business to fore go some things which irritated some of my best friends”.
He said that he had traveled the world from Europe to Asia and to America and pointed out to the students they too would follow what he had done and even go further more.
He said: “I believe in you and know that it is not impossible to achieve your aspirations. If I can do it, you too can do it”
Many of the Health Management students who were present welcomed his comments and expressed their desire to hear more from former students as these former students’ journey after DWU would inspire and motive the current students to do well in their academic studies.
Mr. Lala also provided nine boxes of pizza after his talk and shared it to all the students present.  
Mr. Lala talking to the HM students in one of the HM classrooms.
Mr. Lala with the HM students after the talk

Mr. Lala provides some advice about career opportunities to students after his talk
Yaaay! Its pizza time!
The HM students after the talk

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My very first journal article

Well I just received my own copy of the Contemporary PNG Studies DWU Research Journal, the May Issue and my article was published in it.The journal is published twice a year by DWU Press. The journal provides the means for staff, students and associated academics to publish research findings, personal perspectives, reports of projects or developments and reviews of recent books.

 My article is titled: "Strategies to discourage smoking among young people in PNG" is a literature review of smoking prevention and cessation programs in countries in the Asia Pacific Region. It is hoped that by looking at how other countries are tackling issues of smoking among young people that we, who are in PNG, might be in a better position to can reduce and stop it in PNG.

My article was one of eight (8) published in this issue.
 Well i hope I can do more research and publish in terms of public health issues in the country. We have so many health related problems and yet there is very little evidence driven research that will inform policy making at the national level.
If you wish to get a copy of the journal, current subscription rates are: PNG K60, US$60 and AuD$60 (includes airmail post)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I had a good laugh today

The second semester has started and everybody is gearing up to begin school for another 15 weeks. I was so busy writing up the unit outlines and dropped by the library to scan a news article for my students. I saw the 'Wantok' newspaper (PNG's only tokpisin newspaper) on the librarians desk and had a look through.
In that quiet room in the library, I laughed so loud and disturbed everybody when I read the 'komik' for Toro and Biabia....
Biabia and his supposed 'lus wait' strategy

A radio announcer plays songs from UB40, Elton John and Micheal Bolton and translates the song titles into 'tok pisin'

Thankyou to the staff and Wantok Newspaper for continuing this local characters and their everyday situations...I still love these 'komiks'.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A different kind of campaigning

This month the election fever has gone up and on Saturday 23rd June, the voting begins. While the campaigning has began with stories of people attending rallies and candidates dishing out money, a different kind of campaigning is still part of everyday PNG life. Im talking about street preaching. Young people who pop up at at popular areas and began preaching about Christ. I think we Papua New Guineans are some of the most fortunate people around the world who hear or preach the Gospel without of being jailed or killed. I also think Papua New Guineans are very tolerant to street preachers even to the point of being respectful in the most awkward situations. A person can just sit up and preach wherever he or she feels the need to - in the bus, in front of shops, in the market, in shop corners, on the boat - and people will respect that person and do nothing to stop them..
Last week, I was at the back gate of DWU, next to the Lutheran Day Primary School buying betelnut when i saw two young men just in their teens, who just walked to the centre of the road. One removed his cap and reached into his bag. He took out a bible. I saw these two young men, who stood up at the Lutheran Day Primary School gate and preach about humbleness and obeying the word of God and children who had just finished school, buai sellers, DWU students and the public stood and listened as this two young men preached about God.They preached for about 30 minutes and when they asked people to raise their hands and pray with them, people actually raised their hands and bowed their heads.

In a way, I think most people appreciate street preachers as they get to hear the Word. I think it also is a brave thing when young people choose to do this 'work' and their act shows how much simple people are willing to listen to the Gospel. I think what I saw in front of the school is just a small picture of where our heart is - not in elections because for five years we dont see our 'leaders' on the streets. But our heart is on the hope for better things, a life free of disease and and a community free of corruption.What we seek and hope for in such events as this one described above, we do once every five years - we vote. But unlike parliamentarians, street preachers meet us on the streets and encourage us on themes of faithfulness, hope and love almost everyday for five years!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The fragile state of Wasu wharf

This picture appeared in the National newspaper on Tuesday 10th April, 2012. It shows the fragile state of the wharf at Wasu which is in the Morobe Province.
I dont really know why Iam putting this picture up here but I just feel that something is not right somewhere....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Egu: “If you have not done the HIV test, you are as positive as Iam"

You could have heard a pin drop at the crowded Sir Peter Barter Auditorium when Mr. Joe Egu talked about his life experiences to the Health Management students.
Joe is a Person Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and he related some stories about his life as a Person Living With HIV/AIDS to the Health Management Students and staff earlier this month.
His talk on HIV/AIDS is one part of the Health Managements Department multi-approach towards encouraging and motivating its students outside of their ‘normal’ academic studies to be better people.
In absolute silence, the Health Manage­ment students and staff listened as Joe recounted with passion and emotion his experiences and for many, it was their first time, they had heard from a PLWHA talk about HIV/AIDS.

Health Management students listen to Mr. Egu's talk. The meeting took place in the Sir Peter Barter Auditorium (SPBA)

He said that he had accepted his HIV status long ago and even though he faced discrimination in many situations, he used this as a stepping stone to share and talk about HIV/AIDS throughout the country. In 2008, he launched an organization called the ‘People Living with Higher Aims’ as a means to sup­port PLWHAs live positively in their communities. This organization also focused on providing home based care to PLWHAs and those terminally ill. He also showed examples of how posi­tive living with the help of Antiretro­viral medication could help a PLWHA live longer and support their families better.
He pointed out that he, himself, is an example of what positive living can do for PLWHAs. He said that with the help of Antiretroviral therapy, his im­munity was strengthened and he was able to have a child with his wife - who are both currently HIV negative.
Joe urged everyone in the SPBA room to go for Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) to know their status.
He said: “If you have not done the HIV test, you are as HIV positive as Iam!
“The knowledge you learn through VCT gives you the power to change your life, your attitude and your sexual behavior.”
He reiterated that the current Health Man­agement students would one day be at the forefront of managing HIV/AIDS programs in the country especially in terms of manag­ing programs related to HIV/AIDS Preven­tion and Care & Counseling.

Picture above shows Mr Egu (standing) giving a powerpoint presentation of the work of People Living With Higher Aims in Madang. Picture below shows Mr.Egu (left) standing with one of the HM Tutors, Mr. Gigil Marme (right)

“You all HM students have a mammoth task ahead of you.
“Why I say a mammoth task is because you, as future health managers, will have to ensure that threefold objectives of the Vision 2050 concerning HIV/AIDS - Zero New Infection, Zero HIV related Deaths, Zero Stigma and Discrimina­tion – though difficult to achieve, would still fall in your hands as you would be managing public health institutions, and public health services in the country in the next two decades,” he said.
The Head Of Department for Health Management, Ms. Margareth Samei, thanked Mr. Joe Egu for his talk to the students and staff and pointed out that his experiences as a PLWHA highlight­ed the many issues facing PLWHAs in this country.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Its Friday in Red!

Each Friday of the week, the Health Management staff and students are asked to wear red to support the fight against HIV/AIDS in our country and promote a community that is free from HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination.
Pictured here are second year Health Management students getting ready for their first class on a Friday morning.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Health Managers must work with the Media to improve health information

Health Managers can play a huge role in how people respond to public health issues in the media
This was the message from Ms. Rosalyn Albaniel Evara who is the Bureau Chief for the Madang Branch of the Post Courier when she talked to the Health Management Year four students.
Mrs. Evara said that many times people who are in charge of public health the provinces such as health managers and administrators have a role to play when it comes to relaying the correct information to people through the media.
She said: “Why is there now a resurgence of leprosy cases? We thought that we had done away with this disease but now it is creeping back into our society. Why is it that now we are seeing cases of deformi­ties presenting in our hospitals that our doctors are alarmed at?
“The reasons as to why such diseases and health problems are coming back must be researched and its findings presented to the media so that people are aware of this public health issue.
“ The media and health managers must work together to inform the public about what is happening in our communities.

Rosalyn talking to the Helath Management Year four students.

Mrs. Evara, as part of her talk, outlined many aspects of the newspaper industry that she worked on.
She said that the most fulfilling part of her work was when she writes stories about health and because of the stories are high­lighted in the papers, help is immediate and forthcoming to those in need.
“I don’t have a vehicle to do my job. I travel by bus or on foot to court houses, tertiary institutions, police stations, companies, provincial governments and many other places to get news. The pay isn’t so good and the hours are long but I do it because I have a passion for this country. I want to write about things that change peoples lives for the better. If I can write a story and a mother in a remote Josephstal can have water piped to her village, that, for me, is the pinnacle of helping Papua New Guinea move forward.
Her session with the HM year four students is part of the ‘HM 403 Work­ing with the Media’ course to learn more about how newspaper in the country operate.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A letter to Teen Me

Recently while surfing the web I came across a website of a person who wrote a letter to herself as a teengaer and addressed her younger self as 'Teen Me'. I thought it was one of the coolest things I had seen so far as the lettter was addressed to her younger self in the third person.
So I've decied to write a letter to Teen Me. As a teenager, I got transferred to ECOM High School and started school in the beginning of 1995. Below is a letter to my self as a teenager in ECOM.

Dear Teen Me,
It’s the beginning of the year 1995 and you have entered a new school. I know when you first entered the brick building known as the boys dorm at the old site, you must have felt uneasy and confused about what to do. Your dorm was just a few steps from the practical skills building and the girls dorm was just across a few meters away. Don’t worry too much about making friends. For the next two years, you will learn to develop friendships with some unique people especially the students of 9B. Don’t worry about the setting of the school – classroom buildings made from sago leaves and cane sewn blinds and floor of sand– as many years from now you will say you came from a humble school; -).
I think one of the best people you will ever meet and enjoy his friendship the most will be Nick Paran from Kawaliap. He will be your desk mate and over the course of the next few months, you will grow to like his character. You and him will team up with Kilepak Kiliwi and Simon Kawetan, two guys from your mothers’s island, Mbuke, and at certain times during classes you will make all kinds of silly jokes concerning food and the way it is cooked. You will laugh so hard as you have never laughed before and there will be tears in your eyes. The other students will get angry at you guys for laughing yourselves silly and will want to stop you. Teen me, these times that you laughed with these four guys will be some of your best memories of high school ever!
Teen Me, you will be a coconut climber and climb so many coconut trees at the old site and in the bushes surrounding the school area. Once you leave ECOM, you will hardly ever climb coconuts again and these days will be only treasured memories. Why I say is because some 17 years from now, you will be overweight and wear thick glasses and coconut climbing will never be a part of your world...hahahaha.
I think one of the teachers that will ignite your passion for Maths and Science will be Mr. Basil Pere. You will be enthusiastic about learning Pythagoras theorems and Odds ratio – subjects that you have had a distaste for when you were in grade 8. Another teacher that will stand out will be Mr. Henry Apo, the guy who actually was Bundrahei High School’s first principle, I think. Yep, he will teach you English, Social Science and Religious studies? Well after all these years you will still remember one bible verse he talked about: 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil and he explained that it was not money but it was the love of money that was the root of all evil and for the first time you will know the difference. Another task master aka teacher of yours will be known as Mr. Saramasi, the guy from Mortlock who married a lady from Pere village and who 17 years from now will be the principle of Karkar High School. Yeah one thing that you will remember many years after your stay in ECOM will that you will learn the scientific names of vegetable from his classes and they will become like second nature to you. These scientific names will include Ipomea Batata (kaukau) cocos nucifera (coconut) and colocasia esculata (taro). Another of your teachers that will have an impact on your life – well your cooking and dining life – will be Mrs. Pokawin, yes the wife of then Premier of Manus or was it Open Member for Manus? Anyway, since ECOM is one of the very few schools where all students are taught Home Economics and Practical skills, you will actually learn how to cook in her classes! And I tell you that her lessons from your days in ECOM will always have an effect on the way you will prepare and cook food. Wow does that say too much about her? Yes Teen Me, all these teachers of yours will influence your decisions about life and later in life when you are in you 30s, you will appreciate these people in ECOM. Yes don’t woory about starting a life chapter of your life in this church run school because Teen Me, many many years from now, you will very much treasure your time in ECOM because it gave you some many good memories about life as a teenager. So don’t worry, get up and mingle with your class mates and get to know them well. They will be your friend and family over the next 24 months.
Well Teen Me, I have to leave you now and go attend to somebody special. You know what? One day you will have a special person in your life - a child! Yes a child, Teen Me. A lovely, lovely human being that will light up your life. I will tell you more about her...yes Teen Me, its a girl!...Maybe next time, I will write another letter to encourage you during your time in ECOM. I have so many good things to tell you about ECOM especially in grade 9 and then in grade 10. So catch later Teen Me.

Your older self from 2012